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UKIP set to win second UK parliament seat

The polls close at 10pm tonight.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage
UKIP leader Nigel Farage
Image: EMPICS

BRITAIN’S ANTI-EUROPEAN Union UK Independence Party (UKIP) is set to claim its second seat in parliament a month, after gaining its first foothold as voters went to the polls in the town of Rochester.

The by-election in southeast England was called after MP Mark Reckless defected in September from Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party to UKIP, which wants strict quotas on immigration.

Rochester

The Conservatives have campaigned hard for the Rochester and Strood seat, leading experts to portray the election as a historic moment in British politics if polls indicating a UKIP win bear out.

“UKIP was not supposed to win this by-election,” explained Matthew Goodwin, politics professor at Nottingham University.

The party’s victory in Clacton on October 9 was more predictable as it was “perfect territory for UKIP”.

“It is filled with the types of voters who have fuelled UKIP’s rise since 2010 — older, white, working-class and struggling voters who have few qualifications.

“But Rochester and Strood is a different matter — which is why the Tories were confident they would smash UKIP.”

Cameron vowed to “throw everything” at the battle and defeat would deal a blow to his reputation, but that could turn into a full-blown crisis if the result triggers further defections.

Reckless on Wednesday said that two more Tory MPs were thinking of jumping ship, increasing pressure on Cameron ahead of next year’s general election.

The prime minister has already promised a referendum on Britain’s EU membership if his party wins the general election and has taken a harder stance on immigration in an attempt to stem the flow.

 UKIP ‘living in the past’ 

Eric Pickles, the Conservative communities secretary, dismissed Reckless’s claims.

“I don’t think there will be any (defections),” he said during a campaign trip to Rochester.

“We have brought the economy back from the brink. At times when we talk to our friends in UKIP it sounds as though the only thing they really like about our country is its past.”

Polls opened at 7am and will close at 10pm tonight with results expected early Friday.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage was in Rochester to back his candidate, who said campaigning had gone according to plan.

“Today is not a day for politicians but for the people of Rochester and Strood,” said Reckless, shortly after casting his vote.

“Elections are the purest aspect of our democracy and I always enjoy them.

“The first week or two of the campaign were quite tough, then it has been going as hoped.”

- © AFP, 2014

Read: Is UKIP testing Irish waters with a Twitter page? ‘No, that’s not us!’>

Read: Newstalk presenter condemns “daft and depressing” same-sex marriage ruling>

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